Lecture by David Gow, the inventor of the first multi-articulated bionic hand

Date: 8pm, 17th November 2014
Venue: Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2JL (the venue is accessible for wheelchair users)

Lecture and discussion:

Did you know that the world’s first multi-articulated bionic hand was invented in Edinburgh? Do you want to find out more? Then come to November’s Café Scientifique to meet the inventor, David Gow.

Since ancient times, humans have tried to replace severed parts of the body. One of the oldest prosthesis was found on a 3000-year old Egyptian mummy. The woman had a toe made from wood. But human hands have always proved extremely difficult to emulate. That was until David Gow appeared on the scene.

In this month’s Café Scientifique, David will tell us how he developed a cutting-edge prosthetic hand, the ‘i-limb’, with individually mechanised fingers that enable wearers to carry out complex tasks. Moreover, we will hear about the inspiration for David’s long-standing work on prosthetics and perhaps also what he has turned his attention to since the bionic hand was launched.

Biography of David Gow:

David Gow is the inventor of the i-Limb prosthetic hand. David was born in Dumfries and studied Mechanical Engineering. After working in defence, David joined the University of Edinburgh to study control systems for artificial limbs. He transferred to the National Health Service (NHS) and in 1993, became Director of Rehabilitation Engineering Services and Bioengineering, a post which he still holds. In this role, he manages the Rehabilitation Technology Services for NHS Lothian and is based at the SMART Centre in Edinburgh.

In 1984, David began a programme of research activities in the field of upper limb prosthetics. In 1998 he fitted a fellow Scot, Campbell Aird with an electrical arm prosthesis containing the world’s first electrical shoulder. In 2002 he founded and spun out the first company from the NHS, Touch EMAS Ltd and became its first CEO. He invented the i-Limb and ProDigits partial hand system (now i-Limb digits). He and his team from the company (which became Touch Bionics in 2005) have won numerous awards, including one of the top 50 innovations of the year by Time Magazine and the MacRobert Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008.

He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine and the Royal Academy of Engineering. In April 2014 David was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

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